All a-twitter with 3G

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With two new “3G” mobile broadband networks covering most of the Wakatipu, Queenstown may soon be a-twitter – that’s if Vodafone’s Auckland experience is an indication.

Auckland students initially grizzled about the price of mobile broadband, Vodafone New Zealand external relations manager Paul Brislen says.

“But they got their mummies and daddies to buy Apple iPhones and began surfing the internet.”

Their traffic has turned Auckland University and the Auckland University of Technology into two of Vodafone NZ’s biggest black spots.

“We’re having to put more capacity on the network because they are hammering it.”

Doubtless chatter sites such as Twitter and blogs will be popular. Forget about apes, humans are chirping like starlings.

Wakatipu broadband cover expands on May 29 when Telecom launches its XT network. Vodafone has been rolling out its new wireless broadband since last July.

XT broadband will be available throughout present Telecom cellphone coverage areas.

This should include Glenorchy and Kingston, as well as the Queenstown-Frankton-Arrowtown zone.

It steps up the present “2G” Telecom network to “3G”, using W-CDMA technology at 850MHz.

How fast will it be? Rebecca Earl, Telecom Mobile’s public relations manager, says downloading an average music track on XT will take about 13 seconds compared with 13min 20sec on 2G.

Tourists with a 850MHz compatible device will be able to switch on in Queenstown and be on the network.

The new network also boosts the roaming capability of Telecom mobile customers overseas.

XT phones will roam seamlessly to more than 200 destinations for voice and text and to 110 destinations for data, Earl says. This is supported by more than 430 networks for voice and text, and more than 110 for mobile data.

“Customers roaming around a large country will seamlessly transfer across networks so their coverage won’t be interrupted.”

Vodafone NZ has roaming agreements with just about everybody, Brislen says.

Tourists need only bring their iPhone, similar device, or data card to NZ to log on to Vodafone’s 3G network.
This offers solid coverage of Queenstown-Frankton, though Arrowtown may be on the edge.

Brislen gives theoretical top speeds of Vodafone 3G mobile as 7.2Mb/sec download and 2.0 upload. Number of users online, hills, buildings and other factors affect speed in practice.

Maps of Wakatipu coverage by the two networks at the May 29 launch are available at www.telecom.co.nz/binarys/20113_south_island.pdf and www.vodafone.co.nz/coverage/queenstown/queenstown.pdf

Down the Googler

Google has become so ubiquitous it’s made keying in net addresses uncommon. With electronic bookmarks, it dashed many web squatters’ hopes of riches from catchy site names.

Technology marches on. Enthusiasts await the launch of search engine wolframalpha.com late next Monday night or Tuesday morning (NZ time).

The New York Times describes Wolfram Alpha as designed to answer specific factual questions in a more precise way.

Google something? Yes, but Wolframalpha it?

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s new operating system Windows 7 may go on sale early, perhaps in October, says the MIT Review. Windows 7 may require upgrading hardware and not merely more memory. No need to rush in.
Free OpenOffice 3.1 is out. It does much of what Microsoft Office does. Big download (148Mb).

For techies: Linux Ubuntu 9.04 (“Jaunty Jackalope”) has been released.

Neill Birss will chase up your biz tips: neillb@maxnet.co.nz